Downright ethnic cleansing
One-fifth of Pakistan’s population stands in the way of the ‘purification’ of Pakistan. And so, the quasi-Nazis of what is increasingly becoming the Takfiri Deobandi Republic of Pakistan are out for blood. Their Saudi-funded rose-tinted glasses filter out the kafirs as they enlist targets with only a solitary criterion sufficing in issuing death warrants amidst bellows of the greatness of Allah: Shiism.
Rest assured this is no “sectarian violence” – it’s not a two-way war. Shias are being targeted as a part of barefaced ethnic cleansing, while the nation slumbers with firm fingers on their lips, allowing the likes of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP) to wreak havoc with the country’s largest minority. Around 20,000 Shias have been killed in Pakistan since its inception while the stubborn fingers refuse to budge an inch.
While our armchair jihadis and Facebook revolutionaries raucously protest against the killings and siege in Gaza, their silence on the siege and massacre in Hazara runs the whole gamut from being hypocritical to downright pathetic. Remonstrating against Shia killings might not earn as many Facebook ‘likes’ or fuel their comical pseudo ‘activist’ status like a pro-Gaza comment does, but if they’re really that fretful about human rights, if they’re really endeavouring to fight against the killing of innocent people and if they’re really the flag-bearers of justice, tolerance and equality they wouldn’t find a more pertinent cause to voice their opinion than the systematic massacre of Shias – the most targeted sect in the country.
Over 375 Shias have been killed this year alone (some reports suggest over 500), which is the biggest tally for the past two decades. In addition to the siege in Parachanar, you’ve had examples like the attack on a bus in Gilgit when 26 Shias were dragged out and executed, which was the most high-profile of three such incidents in 2012; the case of Mehzar Zehra, a 12-year-old girl who had to bear the gruesome sight of her own father being brutally killed; and the 51 incidents of violence in November as Muharram reverberated with echoes of “Shia kafir” and “Kill Shias”, as 55 succumbed to religious animosity in the holiest month for Shias.
While there has been condemnation and action against the targeted killings courtesy Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, the fingers are only being pointed towards a “foreign hand”, quite often a euphemism for India. When LeJ leaders like Malik Ishaq – a man acquitted 30 times after charges of terrorism and homicide – officially declare Shias the “greatest infidels” and extrovertly demand that Shias be declared non-Muslims, and others like Mahmoud Baber are chuffed at committing 14 murders and define LeJ’s raison d’être as, “getting rid of the Shias”, you know that the hands involved in Shia killings are quite unmistakably local. And these hands have their grip firmly around this country’s neck as they gradually suffocate the nation into submission.
If there’s anything foreign about this catastrophic scenario, it is the origin of this repugnant ideological war, as Gulf ideologues have found an acquiescing nation to turn into a battlefield. Our inane love-in with the Arabs and disregard for our compatriots over ideological differences is arguably the biggest predicament that faces the country, as things stand, with Pakistan posting up pretty wretched numbers of intolerance.
If PEW’s research is anything to go by 50 percent of the Sunnis in Pakistan believe Shias to be non-Muslims and this insularity and blinkeredness over the most minuscule of ideological differences is exactly what is pushing this country downhill. Every other person has their own ‘kafirometre’ that gauges the level of impurity in the ‘land of the pure’ and marks down those that have to be purged out. And no other community has had to bear this repulsive litmus test more than the Pakistani Shias.
An online protest was launched by a few activists last Sunday, with another online demonstration planned for today. The previous protest garnered thousands of tweets and Facebook posts, with the #ShiaGenocide hash tag generating over three million impressions in a single day. The activists from various sects and ideologies are coming together and making their presence felt on the Web to fight against religious bigotry and strive against Shia genocide. This struggle needs to continue, and people need to become more vocal in their condemnation of bigots and their violent manifestos, if we are to drag this nation out of the religious quagmire.
When 40 million people of a country are unyieldingly under the cosh of religious fanaticism, turbulence is bound to brim over. We need to incorporate acceptance and tolerance into our social setup and condemn everyone who gives holier than thou verdicts over religious differences. And if one were to quote Gerry Duggan, if anyone believes their ideology is worth killing for, maybe they should start with themselves.
The writer is Editor, Business and City (Karachi), Pakistan Today. Email: [email protected], Twitter: @khuldune